Organ and tissue donation law in Scotland

Deemed authorisation

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in July 2019. The legislation provides for a 'deemed authorisation' or 'opt out' system of organs and tissue donation for transplantation. The system came into effect on 26 March 2021. 

The opt out system will apply to most adults aged 16 and over who are resident in Scotland, but it will not apply to everyone.

Under the opt out system, if you die in circumstances where you could become a donor and have not recorded a donation decision, it may be assumed you are willing to donate your organs and tissue for transplantation.

Your family will always be asked about your latest views on donation, to ensure it would not proceed if this was against your wishes.

You still have a choice

You still have a choice if you want to be a donor or not.

The best way to record your donation decision is by registering either an opt-in or opt-out decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Whatever you decide, share your decision with family and friends, as they will still be involved in the donation process.

Knowing what you would want to happen makes it easier for your family or friends and helps them to honour your decision.

Excluded groups

Medical tests and procedures

What do I need to do?

  1. Record your donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register
  2. Tell your family and friends what you have decided

Your choices

Register to become a donor

If you want to be a donor, you should register to be a donor (opt in) on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Register not to become a donor

If you do not want to be a donor, you can register not to be a donor (opt out) on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

If you don't record a donation decision

If you don't record a donation decision (opt in or opt out) it may be assumed that you are willing to become a donor. 

Updating your details or decision

If you have already registered a donation decision, you can update your personal details, reaffirm your decision or update your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Nominating a representative

It is not possible to nominate an appointed representative to make a donation decision on your behalf under current Scottish law.

Tell your family and friends

It is very important that you discuss your donation decision with your family and friends so they can support your decision. 

More information

More information about how organ donation works in Scotland is available on the Organ Donation Scotland Website.



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